Whole Aviva experience for fans the real problem
Because your ticket will allow you in through a specific turnstile only, you will probably enter and make you way to your seat on your own. Try starting an atmosphere in a stand full of individuals on their own, Alan!
Having paid €95 for a ticket (including IRFU handling fee) you then make your way to your seat through the grimmest, ugliest and most vile -smelling “supporters area” you can imagine.
The bars under the stands make the back of a bicycle shed look like Brown Thomas’s window they are so grim, and the whole place is stifling with the vilest smelling burgers (now tainted with the horse meat scandal – no surprise there).
These areas are so bad that no one lingers there after a game; everyone gets out of the place as quickly as possible. It’s no wonder then that, having paid so much for a ticket, people try to squeeze a drink in at half-time or before the game, to try and get some value out of the experience inside the ground.
By the way if you are in the premium seats and feel the need for the bathroom at half -time, it will take you 15 minutes to get through to the tiny toilets and back. The only two decent supporter areas in the ground, the bars at Premium level, have heavy -handed security people to keep people OUT of them after the game.
Last October we went to Stade de France to see Munster (Tickets €25) and next month we will be in Rome for the Ireland game (Category One tickets €65).
The Italy game will be in a new stadium for us but both the Italians and the French cater for supporters well with open air bars, good food and music to keep you around the ground for an hour and maybe two, soaking up the atmosphere after a game.
The worrying thing about the Aviva stadium at the moment is the number of people who no longer go to games. The stadium is smaller than ever, but it has never been easier to get tickets. This really has nothing to do with the recession.
Stalwarts of the game are no longer going to internationals, the number of women attending has fallen hugely and just about everyone I know is questioning the product.
The IRFU will put a large tranche of five- and ten-year tickets on the market this year. These will be sold at a 35 per cent reduction on similar tickets sold before the Aviva opened.
Unless they really shake up what they are offering off the pitch, they haven’t a hope of selling those tickets and no amount of lecturing of supporters by spoilt former players will change that.
* Fergal Keane is a reporter/presenter with RTÉ Radio. He has been involved in rugby all his adult life, lately as a mini-rugby coach. Twitter: @fergalrte.